Nature has blessed the coal capital Dhanbad with enormous deposits of superb quality source of energy.
The rich coal reserve has earned the mining town a distinction of sorts that saves it from being reduced to a mere dot on the country’s map. The district contributes so richly to the nation’s coffers as to turn out to be a virtual golden goose for it.
Yet, the majority of the people of the city are none too happy about their lot as shortage of water, lack of civic amenities, pollution, dirt, filth, soot and dust dog them day in and day out. Worse is the fear of violence between rival gangs or mafia whose blowhards vie to control the illicit trade in coal, courtesy endemic pilferages.
A litany of violence, murders and the shootouts lurk in their minds like a bad dream. Obviously, the onus is on the administration to make them feel safe and secure and win the confidence of the law abiding residents. It also needs to live upto their expectation and address their genuine demands. Maushmi Sinha spoke to the Deputy Commissioner, Dhanbad, Kripanand Jha, from the Indian Administrative Service, or IAS, about the myriad problems that have turned out to be the fate of an otherwise bustling city. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
The city has been rated as one of the dirtiest places in a national survey. How do you plan to work to change this perception about the city?
The tag of dirtiest place is like a black scar on the city but it is worth to mention that this is a mines-centric place. Dirt, filth and pollution in city have come to have a share virtually in its inheritance. The rating to the city could be by and large attributed to these reasons. However, the municipal corporation, Mayor and mineral area development authority (MADA) are working all the way to counter and tackle the situation. Integrated efforts are on to make the city open defecation free. Works are on for solid waste management, liquid waste management and to improve the look or get up of the city by incorporating all the components.
The city has a reputation of a place where mafia, organised crime, politics and illegal coal trade have got entwined. The famed Bollywood movie Gangs of Wasseypur bears a testimony for this. What are your plans to change this impression?
Yes it’s a candid admission that the city has a history tarred by gang-wars, murders and shootouts owing to commercial mining activity but that is a story of the past. Of late only few incidents have been registered and now the city looks forward to a glorious future. Still the administrations urges to the labour and business class to strengthen themselves. Notwithstanding to undue demands they should raise their voice and come forward with their complaints. Self initiative and courage are needed to be mustered to check the menace and crime. Both me and the SP are working together to ensure a crime free environment. Preventive detentions, and tools provided under CrPC to avert ugly situations are being used in exigencies. Very soon four antisocials will be booked under CCA or Crime Control Act. The administration holds meetings regularly with chambers of commerce and other social organisations for feedback on crime situation and any threat perception on business and labour community.
Evacuation and rehabilitation of Jharia township facing a potential threat of subsidence caused by undermine fire raging since more than eight decades is the biggest challenge. What are you going to do to ward this off?
It’s a harsh fact that there is no foolproof solution readily available to quell the fire. Rehabilitation is a feasible and amicable way to minimise the damage. As many as 595 sites are badly affected through the Jharia-Katras stretch and surrounding areas. These have already been identified. Administration has progressed a lot in this direction by initiating steps to handover homes to the affected class under BSUP, or Basic Services for Urban Poor, scheme. Upto 50 sq metre instead of 39 sq metre built up area house under the new relief and rehabilitation policy will be ready soon to rehabilitate the families who are going to be dislodged. They will also be compensated with a one-time cash package of more than Rs 5 lakh as proposed by the Coal Secretary in February-end. Land losers will get double the value of their land apart from other provisionary benefits. Work upon a plan to build an integrated township is already on. Survey has been completed. A presentation before the State Government on April 9th evoked a good response and after final presentation before the Union Government on May 11th a nod would be required by the Union Cabinet to float one-go tender for construction of 1200 house under the proposed integrated township.
Shortage of drinking water and lack of other basic facilities adds to the woe of the city. How do you propose to sort this out?
We are executing different water supply schemes. A sum of Rs 300 crore has been sanctioned for the ambitious Nirsa-Govindpur water supply scheme. We are hopeful that the situation will certainly improve when the schemes become effective. Another innovative idea we are working upon is to use the pit water of mines. Pit water oozes out from mines and turns into a shape of small pond. The administration has instructed BCCL (Bharat Cooking Coal Limited), MADA (Mineral Area Development Authority), and PHED (Public Health Engineering Department) to conduct joint survey to identify sources like pit water. Optimal use of pit water can become an effective tool in addressing the water crisis. Solar pump and solar based plans have been implemented in the rural areas to meet the demand. Mukhiyas, or village heads, at panchayat level are being sensitised to strengthen the solar based system to counter deficient water requirement.
Public Sector Undertakings have a mandatory obligation to contribute towards the welfare of the society. What are you doing to ensure this?
BCCL, Tata, ECL (Eastern Coalfields Limited), SAIL (Steel Authority of India), and Maithon Power Limited are constantly working under various corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes for development of school, culture, health and hygiene, education and medical aid. Yet, a high level CSR committee constituted under me. It would review the activities of public sector undertakings with an idea to improve upon things.